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from the Old English translation of Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum,

book IV chapter xxiv

In this abbess's monastery was a certain


brother particularly glorified and honoured
with a divine gift, in that he fittingly was
accustomed to make songs, which pertained
to religion and virtue, so that whatever thus
he he learned of divine letters from scholars,
In ðeosse abbudissan mynstre wæs sum broðor syndriglice
those things he after a moderate space of time
mid godcundre gife gemæred ond geweorðad, forþon he
he brought forth, in poetic language adorned
gewunade gerisenlice leoð wyrcan, þa ðe to æfestnisse ond
with the greatest sweetness and inspiration
to arfæstnisse belumpon , swa ðætte swa hwæt swa he of
and well-made in the English language. And
godcundum stafum þurh boceras geleornode, þæt he æfter
by his poem-songs the spirits of many men
medmiclum fæce in scopgereorde mid þa mæstan
were kindled to distain of the world and to
swetnisse ond inbryrdnisse geglængde ond in
service of a heavenly life. And likewise,
Engliscgereorde wel geworht forþ brohte. Ond for his
many others after him among the English
leoþsongum monigra mona mod oft to worulde
people endeavoured to compose pious songs,
forhogdnisse ond to geþeodnisse þæs heofonlice lifes
but none however in like manner to him could
onbærnde wæron. Ond eac swelce monige oðre æfter him
do so because he had learned not at all from
in Ongelþeode ongunnon æfeste leoð wyrcan, ac nænig
men nor through man that he songcraft
hwæðre him þæt gelice don ne meahte forþon he nalæs
learned, but he was divinely aided and
from monnum ne þurh mon gelæred wæs þæt he þone
through God's gift received the art of poetry.
leoðcræft leornade, ac he wæs
And he therefore he never could make any
godcundlice gefultumod ond þurh Godes gife þone
sort of lying or idle songs, but just those alone
songcræft onfeng. Ond he forþon næfre noht leasunge ne
which pertained to piety, and those which
idles leoþes wyrcan ne meahte, ac efne þa an þa ðe to
were fitting for his pious tongue to sing. The
æfæstnisse belumpon, ond his þa æfæstan tungan
man was established in worldly life until the
gedeofanade singan. Wæs he se mon in weoruldhade
time when he was of advanced age, and he
geseted oð þa tide þe he wæs gelyfdre ylde, ond næfre
had never learned any songs. And
nænig leoð geleornade. Ond he forþon oft in gebeorscipe,
consequently, often at a drinking gathering,
þonne þær wæs blisse intinga gedemed, þæt heo
when there was deemed to be occasion of joy,
ealle sceoldon þurh endebyrdnesse be hearpan singan,
that they all must in turn sing with a harp,
þonne he geseah þa hearpan him nealecan þonne aras
when he saw the harp nearing him, he then
he for scome from þæm symble ond ham eode to his huse.
arose for shame from that feast and went
Þa he ða þæt ða sumre tide dyde, þæt he forlet þæt hus
home to his house. Then he did this on a
þæs gebeorscipe ond ut wæs gongende to neata scipene,
certain occasion, that he left the banquet-hall
þara heord him wæs þære neahte beboden. Þa he ða þær in
and he was going out to the animal stables,
gelimplice tide his leomu on reste gesette ond onslepte, þa
which herd had been assigned to him that
stod him sum mon æt þurh swefn ond hine halette ond
night. When he there at a suitable time set his
grette ond hine be his noman nemnde: 'Cedmon, sing me
limbs at rest and fell asleep, then some man
hwæthwugu.' Þa ondswarede he ond cwæð: 'Ne con ic
stood by him in his dream and hailed and
noht singan ond ic forþon of þeossum gebeorscipe uteode
greeted him and addressed him by his name:
ond hider gewat, forþon ic naht singan ne cuðe.' Eft he
'Caedmon, sing me something.' Then he
cwæð, se ðe wið hine sprecende wæs: 'Hwæðre þu meaht
answered and said: 'I do not know how to
singan.' Þa cwæð he: 'Hwæt sceal ic singan?' Cwæð he:
sing and for that reason I went out from this
'Sing me frumsceaft.' Þa he ða þas andsware onfeng, þa
feast and went hither, because I did not know
ongon he sona singan in herenesse Godes Scyppends þa
how to sing at all.' Again he said, he who was
fers ond þa word þe he næfre gehyrde, þara endebyrdnisse
speaking with him: 'Nevertheless, you must
þis is:
sing.' Then he said: 'What must I sing?' Said
he: 'Sing to me of the first Creation.' When he
received this answer, then he began
immediately to sing in praise of God the
Creator verses and words which he had never
heard, whose order is this:

(West Saxon rendition of the Cædmon's Song, taken mainly from MS. T1)
[click here for other recensions(='versions') of Cædmon's hymn]
Nu we sculon herigean heofonrices Now we must praise the Protector of the heavenly
weard, kingdom,
meotodes meahte ond his modgeþanc, the might of the Measurer and His mind's purpose,
weorc wuldorfæder, swa he wundra the work of the Father of Glory, as He for each of the
gehwæs, wonders,
ece drihten, or onstealde. the eternal Lord, established a beginning.
He ærest sceop eorðan bearnum 5 He shaped first for the sons of the Earth
heofon to hrofe, halig scyppend; heaven as a roof, the Holy Maker;
þa middangeard moncynnes weard, then the Middle-World, mankind's Guardian,
ece drihten, æfter teode the eternal Lord, made afterwards,
firum foldan, frea ælmihtig. solid ground for men, the almighty Lord.

[click here for links to online audio recording of Cædmon's hymn read in Old English]

Then he arose from that sleep, and all of those


Þa aras he from þæm slæpe, ond eal þa þe he (songs) which he sang while sleeping he had fast
slæpende song, fæste in gemynde hæfde, ond þæm in his memory, and he soon added in the same
wordum sona monig word in þæt ilce gemet Gode manner to those words many words of songs
wyrðes songes togeþeodde. Þa com he on morgenne worthy of God. Then in the morning he came to
to þæm tungerefan, þe his ealdormon wæs. Sægde the town-reeve, who was his alderman. He said to
him hwylc gife he onfeng, ond he hine sona to þære him which gift did he bring, and he directly lead
abbudissan gelædde ond hire þætcyðde ond sægde. him to the abbess and made it known and declared
Þa heht heo gesomnian ealle þa gelæredestan men to her. Then she ordered all of the most learnèd
ond þa leorneras, ond him ondweardum het secgan men and scholars to assemble, and to those who
žęt swefn ond žęt leoš singan, žęt ealra heora dome were present commanded him to tell of that dream
gecoren wære, hwæt oððe hwonon þæt cumen wære. and sing that song, so that it might be determined
Þa wæs him eallum gesegen swa swa hit wæs, þæt by the judgement of all of them: what it was and
him wære from Drihtne sylfum heofonlic gifu whence it had come. Then it was seen by all even
forgifen. Þa rehton heo him ond sægdon sum halig as it was, that to him from God himself a heavenly
spell ond godcundre lare word; bubudon him þa, gif gift had been given. Then they spoke to him and
he meahte, þæt he in swinsunge leoþsonges þæt told some holy story and divine words of
gehwyrfde. Þa he ða hæfde þa wisan onfongne, þa knowledge; they bade him then, if he could, that he
eode he ham to his huse, ond cwom eft on turn it into poetical rhythm. Then, when he had
morgenne, ond þy betstan leoðe geglenged him undertaken it in this manner, then he went home to
asong ond ageaf þæt him beboden wæs. his house, and came again in the morning, and
with the best adorned song he sang and rendered
what he was bid (to recite).

Ša ongan seo abbudisse clyppan ond lufigean ža Godes Then the abbess began to embrace and love the gift
gife in žæm men; ond heo hine ža monade ond lærde of God in that man, and she exhorted and adviced
žęt he woruldhad anforlete ond munuchad onfenge, him that he should abandon the worldly life and
ond he žęt wel žafode. Ond heo hine in žęt mynster accept monkhood, and he readily agreed to this.
onfeng mid his godum ond hine gežeodde to And she accepted him into the monastery, with his
gesomnunge žara Godes žeowa; ond heht hine læran goods, and united him into the community of God's
žęt getęl žęs halgan stæres ond spelles. Ond he eal ža servants, and ordered that he be taught the (entire)
he in gehærnesse geleornian meahte mid hine series of holy stories and narratives. And he was
gemyndgade, ond swa swa clæne neten eodorcende in able to learn all that he heard, and, keeping it all in
žęt sweteste leoš gehwerfde. Ond his song ond his leoš mind, just as a clean animal chewing cud, turned (it)
wæron swa wynsumu to gehæranne žętte ža seolfan his into the sweetest song. And his songs and his poems
lareowas ęt his muše wreoton ond leornodon. Song he were so beautiful to hear, that his teachers
ærest be middangeardes gesceape ond bi fruman themselves wrote and learned at his mouth. He sang
moncynnes ond eal žęt stær genesis (žęt is seo æreste first about the creation of the world and about the
Moyses booc), ond eft bi utgonge Israhela folces of origin of mankind and all of the history of Genesis--
Ęgypta londe ond bi ingonge žęs gehatlandes, ond bi that is the first book of Moses--, and afterwards
ošrum monegum spellum žęs halgan gewrites canones about the exodus of the Israeli people from the land
boca, ond bi Cristes menniscnesse ond bi his žrowunge of Egypt and their entry into the promised land; and
ond bi his upastignesse in heofonas, ond bi žęs Halgan about many other stories of the holy writ of the
Gastes cyme ond žara apostola lare, ond eft bi žæm books of the canon; and about Christ's incarnation,
dęge žęs toweardan domes ond bi fyrhtu žęs and about his suffering and about his ascension into
tintreglican wiites, ond bi swetnesse žęs heofonlecan the heavens; and about the coming of the Holy
rices he monig leoš geworhte. Ond swelce eac ošer Ghost, and of the lore of the apostles; and after
monig be žæm godcundan fremsumnessum ond about the day of impending judgement, and about
domum he geworhte. In eallum žæm he geornlice the terror of the torturing punishment, and about the
gemde žęt he men atuge from synna lufan ond sweetness of the heavenly kingdom, he wrought
mandæda, ond to lufan ond to geornfulnesse awehte many songs. And so also many others he made
godra dæda, for žon he węs se mon swiže æfest ond about divine mercy and judgement. In all of them he
regollecum žeodscipum eašmodlice underžeoded. Ond eagerly sought to pull men away from love of sin
wiš žæm ža še in ošre wisan don woldon he węs mid and criminal deeds, and to love and to zealously
welme micelre ellenwodnisse onbęrned, ond he for šon awake to (the doing) of good deeds. For he was a
fęgre ęnde his lif betænde ond geendade. very devout man, and humbly subjected himself to
regular service. And against those who wished to do
For žon ža šære tide nealæcte his gewitenesse ond otherwise, he burned with surging of great ardour.
foršfore, ža węs he feowertænum dagum ær žęt he węs And he for this reason with a beautiful end he
lichomlicre untrymnesse žrycced ond hefgad, hwęšre closed and ended his life.
to žon gemetlice žęt he ealle ža tid meahte ge sprecan
ge gongan. Węs žær in neaweste untrumra monna hus, For when the time of his departure and going-forth
in žæm heora žeaw węs žęt heo ža untruman ond ža še neared, he was for fourteen days before (his death),
ęt foršfore wæron in lædansceoldon ond him žær that he was afflicted and encumbered by bodily
ętsomne žegnian. Ža będ he his žegn on æfenne žære weakness, yet so moderately that he all the time
neahte že he of worulde gongende węs žęt he in žæm could both speak and move about. There was in the
huse him stowe gegearwode, žęt he gerestan meahte. neighbourhood a house for sick men, in which it
Ža wundrode se žegn for hwon he šęs bæde, for žon was the custom to carry in those who were ill and
him žuhte žęt his foršfor swa neah ne wære; dyde those who were near to death, and minister there to
hwęšre swa swa he cwęš ond bibead. Ond mid žæ he them together. He bade that his servant--in the
ša žær on reste eode ond he gefeonde mode sumu žing evening when (the time) of his leaving the world
mid him sprecende ętgędere ond gleowiende węs že was nearing--that he prepare for him a place in that
žær ær inne wæron, ža węs ofer midde neaht žęt he house, that he might rest (there). Then the servant
fręgn hwęšer heo ænig husl inne hęfdon. Ža wondered why he bade thus, because he thought
ondswarodon heo ond cwædon: "Hwylc žearf is še that his end was not so near, but nevertheless did as
huslesæ Ne žinre foržfore swa neah is, nu žu žus he said and commanded. And when he went there to
rotlice ond žus ględlice to us sprecende eart." Cwęš he rest, and he in a happy mood was jesting and
eft: "Beraš me husl to." Ža he hit ža on honda hęfde, ža speaking about various things with those who were
fręgn he hwęžer heo ealle smolt mod ond, buton gathered together with him, those who were in (the
eallum incan, bliše to him hęfdon. Ža ondswaredon hæ sickhouse) before (him); when it was past midnight
ealle ond cwædon žęt heo nænigne incan to him he asked, if they had any housel within. Then they
wiston, ac heo ealle him swiše blišemode wæron; ond answered and said: 'What need of the housel? Your
heo wrixendlice hine bædon žęt he him eallum bliše passing is not so near, when now you are this
wære. Ža ondswarade he ond cwęš: "Mine brošor, cheerfully and this pleasantly speaking to us.' He
mine ža leofan, ic eom swiše blišemod to eow ond to said again: 'Bring to me the housel.' When he had it
eallum Godes monnum." Ond he swa węs hine in his hand, he asked whether they had peaceful
getrymmende mid žæ heofonlecan wegneste ond him minds and happily beared him no ill-will. Then they
ošres lifes ingong gegearwode. Ža gæt he fręgn hu all answered, and said that they knew no ill-will
neah žære tide wære žętte ža brošor arisan scolden ond towards him, but they all were very happily
Godes lof ræran ond heora uhtsong singan. Ža disposed towards him. And they in turn asked him
ondswaredon heo: "Nis hit feor to žon." Cwęš he: if he was happy with all of them. Then he answered
"Teala: wuton we wel žære tide bidan." Ond ža him and said: 'My brothers, my beloved ones, I am very
gebęd ond hine gesegnode mid Cristes rodetacne ond blithe of mind towards you and all men of God'.'
his heafod onhylde to žam bolstre ond medmicel fęc And he was thus strengthening himself with
onslepte, ond swa mid stilnesse his lif geendade. heavenly provisions, and he prepared himself for
entry into the other(/next) life. Then yet he asked
Ond swa węs geworden žętte swa swa he hluttre mode how near the time was to when the brothers must
ond bilwitre ond smyltre wilsumnesse Drihtne žeode, arise, and offer up praise to God and sing their
žęt he eac swylce swa smylte deaše middangeard węs matins. They answered, 'It is not long til then.' He
forlætende ond to his gesihše becwom. Ond seo tunge said: 'Good, let us fully wait that time.' He then
že swa monig halwende word in žęs Scyppendes lof prayed and blessed himself with the sign of Christ's
gesette, he ša swelce eac ža ætmęstan word in his Rood, and inclined his head to the bolster, and in a
herenisse, hine seolfne segniende ond his gast in his small space of time, he fell asleep -- and thus ended
honda bebeodende, betynde. Eac swelce žęt is gesegen his life in stillness.
žęt he wære gewis his seolfes foršfore of žæm þe we
nu secgan hærdon. And so it came to pass that as he served God with
pure spirit and with mild and serene devoutness,
that he likewise left this middle-earth by a serene
death, and he arrived in His sight. And the tongue
which had set so many healing words in praise of
the Maker, so likewise (uttering) its last words to
praise Him--as he crossed himself and offered up
his spirit into His hands--ceased. Also likewise it is
aid that he was certain of his own passing, of which
we have now heard said